How Lewberger Took Over TikTok With Those Hilarious Broadway Song Covers
Creating a consistent viral trend on social media is no easy feat. Lewberger, the comedy trio consisting of Alexander Lewis, Hughie Stone Fish, and Keith Habersberger, has managed to do just that, however.
Earlier this year, they began posting videos on TikTok in which Alex sings the real words to a song while Keith invents new words because he doesn’t know the original. Hughie plays the piano and sings harmony. The results are hilarious, genuine, and delightful. Quickly, the trend pivoted to Broadway song covers and soon the stars were getting in on the game, like Alex Brightman, Julie Benko, Rob McClure, Max Clayton, and more.
Theatrely sat down with Alex to discuss the group’s growing popularity and their upcoming Off-Broadway musical. Check out their interview below.
You started posting these videos on TikTok in February. What was the impetus?
We were at Hughie’s wedding and the song “Me and My Shadow” by Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra came through in the rotation. Keith, Hughie, and I all have musical improv backgrounds and we started just playing around. I knew the words and Keith didn’t, so I’d sing the regular words as written and he came up with hilarious improvised lyrics. We thought, “Hey here’s a dumb idea we could put on TikTok,” and the rest is history.
As the videos gained popularity, you started to ask viewers to suggest songs. How do you choose?
It’s sort of random chaotic order. A lot of times it’ll start with a bunch of people requesting a song from a musical, and then once we do that song people will start asking for more from that musical. We’re going through a big Ride The Cyclone kick right now and that’s because one person suggested “Space Age Bachelor Man” (which a bunch of people upvoted) and once people realized we were aware of Cyclone they started asking for more songs from it and so on!
How long does it take you to film one video?
One to two minutes. You’re basically seeing the whole production of the song in our videos. We generally film 15 to 20 videos in one sitting and that takes like an hour or so.
What’s your favorite Broadway song cover so far?
Of the ones we shoot out at Keith’s house, we’ve loved all the Heathers ones and have actually connected with cast and crew members from the show and made some really great friends. We also perform duets live now and “Defying Gravity” was super insane and fun. But the Beetlejuice experience has been pretty unbeatable. We’ve gotten to work with like half the cast now and done a good portion of the songs from the show with their Broadway performers, thanks to our good friend Yoanna who runs the social over there. It’s been a real dream come true.
Who was the first Broadway guest star to join you?
George Salazar! We actually had him improvise with Keith. He didn’t know the lyrics to “Summer Nights” from Grease which was absolutely astounding to find out.
Who would you like to join you next?
Oh man, I mean there’s so many guests we’d love. Obviously, Lin-Manuel Miranda comes to mind, as we’re of course HUGE fans of his and he could do either side of the game! Either singing his own lyrics or improvising with Keith. We’d love to get Audra, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth, Kristen Bell, Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad, Sutton Foster, Christian Borle, Hugh Jackman…did we list enough? We also got to shoot with Melissa Etheridge, which really opened the concept into the idea of working with more music artists as well. We’ll always do the Broadway duets but getting to work with pop stars or rock stars or anyone is a very appealing thought for us! We’re also dying to get one with Wayne Brady, the true musical improv master!
Are there any songs that you really want to try but can’t seem to make work?
“We Both Reached for the Gun” didn’t work nearly as well as we thought it would. We haven’t given up yet but because the melody is so all over the place it’s given us some trouble. I think we’ll make it work though!
Where does your love for musical theatre come from? What’s your first Broadway memory?
We’re all musical theatre kids. Funny enough, we didn’t go into this thinking let’s do songs from Broadway shows. We did a bunch of jazz standards, as well, but in the process of making them we had the most fun and definitely got the biggest response from musical theatre songs. We all did theatre throughout our lives: Keith studied theatre in college, I’ve been performing in musicals since age 8, and Hughie, too, was a child of the stage. My personal first Broadway memory is seeing Cats on Broadway and mom trying to convince me to go sit on Old Deuteronomy’s lap during the show. I’m not sure why she encouraged me to do that! (I obviously didn’t.)
You’re doing an Off-Broadway musical next year! What is Lewberger & The Wizard of Friendship about?
The show takes place at the filming of Lewberger’s next comedy special where the Wizard of Friendship is in attendance. Lewberger gets in a fight on stage and break the Wizard of Friendship’s heart into three pieces, thereby sending the band to the outrageous and wild mythical world of NoFriendia. There, we’ll have to find and repair the Wizard’s heart before the end of our comedy special or destroy friendship as we know it forever [Editor’s note: Dun dun dunnnnn]. We encounter crazy characters like FlimFlam the Sausage Man and a Giant Bird in a Man Suit and travel through NoFriendia’s many whacky places like the Intimidatingly Handsome Forest and the Bog of Broken Friends. It’s part Wizard of Oz, part Little Shop, a dash of Rocky Horror, and part weird 90’s Wee Sing VHS musical and it’s an absolute blast. For this Off-Broadway run, we’re also very excited to welcome different current Broadway actors who will have a walk on cameo in each show. We’ll announce specific names closer to the date but I’ll tell you we’ve got a lot of the favorite performers who appeared in our TikToks from Beetlejuice, The Music Man, and Little Shop of Horrors to name a few!
For more on Lewberger, visit their Linktr.ee.